Before Android 3.0 Honeycomb, all Android devices had a dedicated Menu button. Since the introduction of Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, we have 3 onscreen buttons, Back, Home & Recent. This change has brought about lots of benefits to Android devices:
- Onscreen buttons are a lot more responsive.
- Developers can change what they do with them.
- Immersive for apps which require it, such as YouTube.
- The bezels can be made much smaller, such as the Nexus 6.
- Ease of launching Google Now, in most devices.
- Not accidentally waking up the screen by pressing the physical button.
- Easier to see. Physical button keys are not always backlit, especially low spec phones.
Android 5.0 (Lollipop) brings Play Station inspired new soft keys. Android evolved pretty fast. It combines visuals and substance into a methodology with the potential to influence the future design of every Google operating system going forward – both desktop and mobile, but did Android get it all right? What happened to the “Menu” button? A menu button, to get the menu of whatever app you’re in, or home screen, or browser, or anything. It’s a completely normal and helpful part of Android phones.
This is an example of Android Menu button; Google’s idea of surfacing options from deep, dark sub-menus with the Action bar is a good one, and it works most of the time, but eradicating a button as important as Menu from the bottom and placing it in inconsistent places in different apps is definitely troublesome. A universal Menu button solves all that, flexibility is one of the strongest suits of Android and we can only hope that Google reflect on that going forward.